ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – **Quarterback competitions aren't won in May.
They're not won at OTAs, wearing only helmets and jerseys, either, and they're certainly not won before game action begins in August.
But former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer knows what it takes to quarterback a team in the NFL, and he left Thursday's practice with a good impression of the three players competing for a starting spot in Denver.
Plummer, who went 39-15 in the regular season during his four seasons with the Broncos, saw his fair share of success in Denver. In 2005, he led the Broncos to a 13-3 record and an AFC Championship berth. Outside of John Elway, Gary Kubiak and Peyton Manning, Plummer may be the most equipped former Broncos quarterback to evaluate the future of the position.
And so, as Mark Sanchez, Trevor Siemian and rookie Paxton Lynch compete for the starting spot, Plummer's perspective can provide an interesting look at the Broncos' most interesting position battle.
"Just from watching, it's real hard cause so much goes into a battle like that," Plummer said, "but right now it looks like all three are very highly capable of running the system. It's just a matter of who runs it the most efficiently and can lead the guys the right way. That's what it's gonna come down to. I think all three of them could get it done."
Plummer has met both Siemian and Lynch a couple times, but Thursday was the first time he was able to speak with Sanchez, who has been limited in OTAs with a thumb injury.
Former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer attended practice on Wednesday as the team continued to prepare for the Packers.
"Mark's kind of working what he can do with the thumb," Plummer said, "so it's hard to get a good gauge. But again, [he's] a guy I know that can run this system. He's played at a high level already, so if anybody has an advantage, I'd say it'd be him, because he's been in the fire."
From Lynch, Plummer saw a player who was holding his own against perhaps the NFL's best defense.
"The rookie looks good – throwing some good balls," Plummer said. "I'm impressed by his arm and also the fact that he's big, but he doesn't look big. He looks spry and quick, like a smaller guy would look."
And while some are overlooking Siemian, the second-year pro out of Northwestern, Plummer said he was impressed by what he showed on Thursday, as well.
"I really like what Trevor's doing," Plummer said. "He looks crisp and clean and knows where he's going."
As Plummer looked back to his own rookie season with the Cardinals, he remembered the most difficult part of transitioning from Arizona State University to the NFL. And when he saw Lynch on the field at UCHealth Training Center, he saw a player dealing with the same sort of struggles.
"Just [the] timing of things," Plummer said. "Understanding that it is a big jump, but it's a jump in timing, it's a jump in anticipation, it's a jump in knowledge of knowing what you're doing and trusting the guys around you. But other than that, it's still football."
Still, there's a learning curve, and Lynch's was evident to Plummer as he watched Thursday's practice. Though Lynch often identified the correct receiver, he delivered some of the balls just a split-second late, Plummer said. He attributed the near misses to Lynch's developing confidence, and he believes Lynch will soon be in a spot to deliver throws to receivers on the run. When that happens, the results are game-changing.
"All quarterbacks make those plays where they might pinch it a little bit or not throw it with as much confidence, and they're still good plays," Plummer said. "But when you've got that confidence down and you're playing at that high level, which he can get to, those are big plays, you know? Not just 20-yard completions, but 80-yard touchdowns."
Through rookie minicamp and the first week of OTAs, however, Plummer sees good progress from the 26th overall pick. Despite taking the majority of his snaps from shotgun at Memphis, Lynch is adjusting well to the new system.
"I see some good stuff from him," Plummer said. "He looks good coming out from under center, smoother than I expected. He's an athlete. The good thing about athletes [is] you can teach them new tricks."
Whoever ends up learning those tricks and starting for the Broncos, Plummer has faith in their ability to lead Denver back to a contending role.
The final decision likely still won't be made for months, but this former Broncos starter likes what he's seeing at the start.